As with any job position, certain skills and abilities are needed to be a successful member of a virtual team. Common skills needed are ways to manage your time and organize all assignments and duties. When building your virtual team, remember to find employees that can work well under minimal supervision and can function with different types of technology.
More employees are choosing to work from home or outside the standard office. It not only saves the company money, but it allows them to expand into other areas and cover more ground. But when working outside of a standard office, you must learn to self-manage. A manager cannot always be present and cannot always watch over your shoulder. You must be able to monitor your progress and be able to keep track of your assignments and deadlines. If you do not have basic skills of self-management, then you won’t be able to function in a virtual office.
Common tools for self-management:
- Make a schedule and stick to it
- Keep a calendar of important dates and deadlines
- Check-in with team members periodically to stay in the loop
When you work with little supervision, you must be able to manage your time on your own. This does not necessarily mean you must manage every minute or try to force yourself to stay focused. Time management means recognizing when you have deadlines and knowing how long it will take you to finish a project or assignment. Sometimes you can let in too many distractions or try to take on too many duties at once. This in turn can cause you to manage your work time poorly and fail to do a good job. Your manager cannot completely manage your time and resources for you. Instead, they will give support and offer advice on ways to stay focused and on track. Many employees know good time management skills and methods but may need a reminder on how to use them.
Organizing and Planning
When a virtual team member has to work in their own office, you need to be sure that all files and assignments (paper or electronic) are fully organized, which is a form of self-management. Ensuring that the office is always organized can boost productivity and reduce errors made by misplaced files or a forgotten assignment. Planning is also an important part of organization because you need to be able to manage your time and resources – especially since you do not have a manager to supervise you at all times. Be encouraged to adopt a universal or adaptable filing system to organize your work for easy access. Also feel free to utilize different methods of planning and organizing your time, such as day planners, email timers, or reminder systems.
Common tips for better organization:
- Create a pattern in your day to organize and plan different tasks
- Keep a calendar or planner with important dates and reminders
- Plan ahead and know what assignments or deadlines are approaching
- Set up your email account to remind you periodically of important dates
- Use a filing/storage that can be adapted in case there are any changes or modifications
Communication can be a difficult aspect to master with a virtual team. You will not only deal with traditional communication issues among team members and management, but you can face additional problems that can cause you to feel additional stress. With your peers not being able to directly come to you when they need to talk; this extra time to reach out to teammates can be a cause of friction. Everyone needs to be aware of the various methods of communication available to them, including email, phone, fax, mail, etc. Employees should know how to use each method of communication and what kind of information they can be used for. Be open and clear about what you want from your teammates and let them know of ways they can reach you if they have a problem.
Example forms of communication for remote workers:
- Instant messaging
- Phone call
- Text messaging
- Video call
For some people, working from home can seem like a dream opportunity. But they may not realize that this kind of position comes with a great amount of responsibility and challenges. Since these employees are not working in a centralized office, they may have the advantage of having flexible schedules and shorter or no commute, they can have disadvantages when it comes to receiving feedback and being able to communicate with teammates. To be a successful member of a virtual team you must learn to self-manage and manage your time on your own. Ensure your home office is organized and all files are properly stored for easy retrieval. Communication can be the most challenging part of being part of a virtual team and you will have to be clear about what you want from your teammates and when and where they can reach you.
One of the most effective ways to overcome challenges that virtual teams face is through a virtual team building activity. TBAE offers interactive virtual team building events that will help your virtual team to bond and enhance communication among remote workers.